I haven’t sat down to write this yet, because it feels like I shouldn’t. Not that I shouldn’t have the feelings I do, but that I shouldn’t admit that it’s not entirely easy – that my overwhelming joy of being six weeks from meeting our child is sometimes overshadowed by the grief of what we’ve been through and the fear of what we’re living through now.
But I’ve tried to share our story with sincerity, so here I am. I’d ask that you read this with the context that we are over the moon excited and in love with our baby girl. Know that we are so full of gratitude we can barely stand it. Know that we realize we could be like anyone else for whom this pandemic has delayed treatments to help them get pregnant and we’re deeply sad for them. Know that we read our daughter books at night and laugh at how she kicks when we do silly voices. Sometimes we cry happy tears sometimes when she’s kicking, because we really can’t believe where we are. The joy is always there, even when other emotions creep in.
It’s terrifying to be pregnant in a pandemic – to receive little or conflicting information about the specific threat to your and your baby’s health and to have to navigate the decisions at hand, trying to determine what is best for your child before you’ve even met her yet.
It’s a scary time and that’s an understatement.
Being pregnant in a pandemic after loss, years of failed attempts to get pregnant and long periods of thinking it would never happen is, at times, unbearable.
Grief doesn’t disappear. I’m not suddenly over the baby I’ll never meet because we have a new one we likely will.
The combination of emotions keeps me up at night. I tear up when I see the note to our first baby scrawled across the small white board in our closet – the note we can’t bring ourselves to erase – “we’ll love you always.” I bawl in the shower because I think of the tiny baby that we now lovingly say was here briefly to make a comfortable space for our little girl.
Loss is trauma.
It shows itself in many ways; in bouts of anger; in worries over things that aren’t a big deal but are more manageable to carry than those that are; in tearing up at little reminders around the house and on dates that should’ve been milestones.
In the midst of a pandemic, with little information about its effect on infants, grief manifests in fears that something will steal this new baby away before we really get to know her.
Any book on miscarriage will tell you it haunts future pregnancies. Even if you have healthy, happy children after a miscarriage, each new pregnancy has the nagging sense that something can steal the joy unexpectedly. It’s a natural part of the process.
And in 2020, there’s a concrete threat – a pandemic that could do a lot more damage than cancelling baby showers.
I’m long past being sad about a baby shower. I’m focused on the final goal of getting her here safely.
I would kill to know the first days and weeks of my baby’s life could be normal. I’d give anything for it to be like it would’ve been if we were able to get pregnant one, two, even three years ago when we first started trying.
I wish she could meet all four of her grandparents the day she’s born. I wish visitors could come to the hospital. I wish we could see a steady stream of our closest friends walk through our doorway to say hello to this girl we’ve waited years to meet.
But that’s not our reality right now. Our reality is that there are restrictions in place and recommendations that force us to make tough decisions.
I won’t pretend it doesn’t suck.
It does. It breaks my heart.
The strangeness of this year is hard for so many of us.
And we face the challenge in different ways. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how lucky I am that this pregnancy has been easy on me, physically. Getting here was hard, but the actual pregnancy hasn’t presented any concerning symptoms or emergency appointments. I wasn’t extremely nauseous at any point and I haven’t had any spikes in blood pressure. I count each one of those things as blessings, especially when fears creep in.
I navigate the weirdness of being a social person stuck at home by preparing for her arrival – I’m nesting, washing clothes, ramping up FaceTime calls, taking more photos along the way than I probably would have otherwise, reading more chapters in baby books than I ever planned to, talking with friends who’ve just had children in the pandemic and listening to podcasts on motherhood.
I’m reminding myself daily that “quarantine” means Russ, the baby and I will have quality time as a family of three that we wouldn’t have had otherwise.
We’re still six weeks out (if all goes as planned) and we have no idea what things will look like when she arrives. Businesses are beginning to open back up around us and people are getting restless about being home. We hope it’s a sign that the world will start to get back to normal and that we’ll do so with a more controlled grip on the coronavirus.
Regardless, our days will stay the same as long as that’s the medical recommendation. We’ll soak in the extra time together and know that being here safe at home, however uncomfortable it can be to miss everyone around us, will be worth it if it means we can contribute to a healthier world for our baby girl.